Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing Baptist woman minister, and today, we are so pleased to introduce Yana Pagan.
Yana, tell us about where and how are you currently serving in ministry?
I recently ran into a big brother in ministry and told him; “I have no pulpit, I go where God calls and it feels great!” I can honestly say I like my life as it is; while others see me as jobless. It is all a matter of perspective. This is not where I planned to be when I was ordained in 2008, and I sure did not like it at first. But I have found my voice, and I am not sure I had that seven years ago.
The how I serve is a bit more complicated. My ministry would not work for the one who wants a steady income. Notice, I said wants not needs, because we sure do need two incomes, yet Angel (my husband of sixteen years who is a pastor) and I trust that God will provide. But there are always challenges.
I minister as God leads. I teach at Esperanza College. I am a preacher, teacher, blog writer, retreat facilitator, Bible study leader. I mentor women who feel they need encouragement or life coaching, I speak to groups on issues of justice, share my life testimony, and talk about how the church can be a source of change. I represent the American Baptist Home Mission Societies at various meetings, most recently at the New Baptist Covenant Summit, which is a movement I am excited about. I believe we all need to be dreaming more for the Reign of God here on earth. There is more I do, but I think you get the idea. If I get a call, I pray and then I respond, so now you know why I say “I have no pulpit but if God calls I go.” I guess, I am a traveling preacher!
What job, positions and experiences have shaped and prepared you for your present role?
I believe that all jobs were preparing me for this moment because God is so awesome and knows me so well. I would like to highlight my role as bookstore manager. That job trained me in so many ways, most especially to work with people. At the bookstore, I could not hide in the shadows like I so enjoyed doing. Interestingly, the job came about while I was in seminary, and God started slowly with me. At first I was an assistant and then I was named as manager. The first position prepared me for the second. Clinical Pastoral Education prepared me and taught me more than I can ever explain about ministry and helped me to find niche. The ministry of presence and the fact that I had to learn to first of all be comfortable in my own skin. Chaplaincy and later a residency truly shaped and prepared me for ministry.
Who has inspired you along the way as you have lived out your calling?
I thank God that I have been blessed with a church family and friends that inspired me. Together their voices encouraged me live out my calling. I thank God for Rev. Rafael Martell, with whom I still have a relationship, thank God. Rev. Martell taught me to rely solely on my relationship with God and let my relationship with others confirm what God is saying because God speaks directly to me.
So many women and men have come into my life for a season, or they have been midwives and helped me birth something new, but every person has had their role. My first church taught me so much about my relationship with Christ and showed me how to lean heavily on Christ to live out my call. And, so honestly this question has been hard because I want to be honest about how I feel about this and what I share as I do mentoring.
My experience is that at the start of something new there are key people who are crucial. They have very special places in my heart, and sometimes they come back into my life to help me live out another part of the calling. Sometimes someone comes into my life for just a season and then leaves because their role was just to help us birth something new. I have found that they are not meant to be part of my daily life, and I cannot force them to do that. For their purpose is fulfilled in their appointed season, and we must make room for what God has next. And we must always be discerning and aware that the family of God is big. There are also ones we will never meet who encourage us daily to live our calling like Debroah, Ruth, Joseph, Esther, Jesus, Mary Magdelena, or authors like Joni Erickson Tada, Renita Weems. but we do not need to meet all of our heroes.
What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is sensing a call to ministry?
I would say to try to volunteer in something you know you are interested in; feeding the poor, after-school programs, or prison ministry. Maybe you have a passion to work with elderly, or you can help someone from your church the same with children. I volunteered in my church, and because of the experiences I had there, I was not afraid of hospitals. When you volunteer, recruit a friend! Nothing is better than going in two’s, and having a friend eases the fear a bit. Try something new together!
But if you are in the reflective stage of life, try to be still. Then trust yourself, but do not be afraid to ask people how did they got started in the field in which you are interested. I know it is scary to ask someone to share their story, but people are willing to share, if you are willing to listen. Finally, remember God calls us out the places we are passionate about . . . it just takes us awhile to figure it out so be good to yourself.